Friday, July 15, 2011

On Scandals of Red Bricks and Red Tops

British Sunday "newspaper" The News of the World — famed for tawdry celebrity exposés and populist moral crusades such as the "name and shame" campaign that outed known pedophiles — folded this week amidst a truly repugnant phone hacking scandal. As Rupert Murdoch flies in to England for damage limitation/cynical rebranding of his other rag The Sun as The Sun on Sunday, all I can really think to do is microwave some popcorn, crack a beer, and watch the whole shit show go down in lurid detail.

So, while we're on the topic of hackery and rebranding, did you notice I gave my blog an extreme makeover?

Wait, let me try that again.

While we're on the topic of hackery, rebranding and "naming and shaming" — I have to pay tribute to Wolf Brewing Co. (formerly Fat Cat Brewing) of Nanaimo BC. In a week where the headlines have left a taste so bad in everyone's mouth that a turd sandwich would be considered a palate-cleanser, Wolf Brewing's Red Brick IPA should be applauded for wringing fresh grimaces from my over-worked wince muscles.

Dave told me it was the same recipe as Fat Cat's IPA, something I'd read elsewhere. This raises two questions: Why take over a brewery, change its name, and produce exactly the same beers? and Can Fat Cat's one really have been this bad?

The nicest thing about Red Brick IPA is Wolf's new old-timey stylings. The new bottles resemble those of several blended scotch whisky brands; the artwork is well done and approaches classy. The beer itself is not too reminiscent of the style I know as IPA. Wolf's beer is citrusy enough, but not in an aromatic way. Red Brick has a lemon rind flavour and is generally unsuitably sour and lifeless. The hops are strangled and anemic. As I was debating whether to bother with a second pour, I noticed the description on the label reads "impressive west coast style IPA": that's about as accurate as it is humble.

I don't like giving a local(ish) brewery a kicking, but on this evidence it is deserved. To be fair to them, perhaps Wolf are maintaining these recipes while they get a sense of their own approach. I do not know much about the new owners, they could be just finding their feet — so by all means try their beers for yourselves. But if Wolf's management wanted advice, I'd tell them to launch one or two new lines with straightforward appeal and lots of quality. This aint gonna cut it.

If you'll excuse me, I have some popcorn to get out of the microwave and some schadenfreude to extract from some squirming media moguls. Now that's tasty.


  1. Shame, I hoped Wolf would be an improvement on the Cat.

  2. nice make-over, your blog has a classier look to it now. i like the "matted" finish especially.

  3. With you on "Why take over a brewery, change its name, and produce exactly the same beers?" I have tried the beer and it does not taste like the Fat Cat stuff it "replaced". Strange. but who knows. Maybe they did not get all of the recipe!

  4. It's not the same beer. I was the sales rep for the former owners. The new owners have no background in the beer industry, and they've changed the hops used in the IPA to west coast hops (Cascadia, etc) from the original recipe that called for Green Bullet from NZ, which gave the IPA its distinctive bite.

  5. Woof! I hope thye upgrade their selections. The stuff they are producing now is fairly nasty!

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